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What to eat?

One of the most discussed topics in sports is when and what to eat. This topic can be complicated by food allergies and food sensitivities. But this newsletter is about runners gut. The symptoms are bloating nausea and diarrhea during and after intense activity. Some people refer to this condition as a nervous stomach or runners trot.

This condition is associated with the Autonomic Nervous System. The Autonomic Nervous System consists of the Sympathetic (fight or flight) and Parasympathetic (relaxation) Nervous Systems. The Sympathetic Autonomic Nervous System regulates increase heart rate, increases respiration, dilates the pupils of the eye, inhibits digestion and is involved with the fight or flight mechanism.

The Parasympathetic Autonomic Nervous System regulates digestion and the urinary system.
Because intense exercise involves the Sympathetic Nervous System and oxygen is shunted from the digestive tract (the stomach and intestines). Combining this with physical movement and dehydration especially if a large meal is consumed near activity time some foods won’t be properly digested.

Usually these symptoms are transient.
The best way to address this condition is to avoid heavy meals within 3 hours of intense activity, consume low fiber foods, simple carbohydrates, and fruit and remain hydrated. There is some research showing that wearing compression socks that apply pressure to the muscles of the legs, increasing the circulation to the intestines can improve digestion during intense activity.

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